Well, it seems like it takes more than one column to discuss the first days home with a newborn baby. After discussing the nuances of breast feeding, there are also many questions regarding all of the noises that babies make. Everyone thinks that infants are pretty quiet, that is until you sleep with a newborn in the bassinet right next to your bed. Newborns are noisy!! They not only cry (that is a whole other topic) but they squeak, grunt, stretch, yawn, have weird breathing noises, hiccup and pass tons of gas. (Dad’s are so cute when they say, “there is something wrong with my baby girl as she FARTS and it stinks, this can’t be normal?”)
The first thing that many parents will notice is that their infant has “weird” breathing patterns. The baby seems to take some rapid breaths and then pauses and it looks like “they have stopped breathing” for a few seconds, and then resumes their more normal breathing. This is called periodic breathing and is quite normal for the first few weeks of a baby’s life. I swear only first time parents notice this, as you have the time to watch your precious baby and count their breaths.
Every subsequent baby in the family is equally loved, but is typically not under the microscope like a first born and we only notice that they are ‘’’breathing”. As an infant matures so does the breathing pattern and the respiratory rate becomes more rhythmic. If your baby has any color changes, i.e turns dusky, or blue with their breathing that is a cause for immediate concern and a call to the doctor or 911.
Another common concern is often how many times a day a baby will hiccup. If you remember, the baby often hiccupped in utero, and this too continues after they are born. Babies seem to hiccup for an inordinate amount of time, which bothers parents, but usually seems not to faze the baby at all. It is fine to try and give your newborn water if they are hiccupping and it is really bothering either you or them, but is not necessary. Just like an infant’s startle (Moro) reflex, babies seem to get the hiccups when they are younger and they slow down as the baby’s nervous system matures. A baby may hiccup for minutes to an hour and then just stop and fall asleep, oblivious to the concern that this event has caused their parents.
Babies also make a lot of stretching and grunting and groaning noises, and are perfectly comfortable. But these noises will awaken a sleeping parent. If your baby is not crying during all of these noises, I would not pick he/she up, but would wait to see if they then go back to sleep. Some of these noises occur even while a baby is sound asleep. In this case the adage, “never wake a sleeping baby” is good advice. These noises do not necessarily mean a baby needs to eat, especially if you think they may have just eaten an hour ago. Again, your baby should not appear in any distress or have color changes, they are just noisy!
Lastly, GAS! All babies have gas, and no one knows that until they have cared for a newborn. It does not matter if a baby is breast or bottle fed, they produce gas, and it is loud and may be stinky. I think that infants produce more gas in the first 3-4 months of life than they will again until they are old (grandparents age, ask them). It seems like so many things occur both early and later in life, and gas is just one example.
As a newborn’s GI tract matures, they seem to produce less gas, and are also often more comfortable after a feeding. When a baby is “gassy” they often like to have movement, so they like to be rocked, or put on their tummy and patted (only if awake, never to sleep), and they may enjoy the swing, or the motion of riding in a car, or putting the infant seat on top or a vibrating washing machine or dryer. There are many “home remedies” but maturation of the GI tract just takes time. In most cases, changing an infant’s formula or a mother’s diet will not change the gas, but many people will try it. Remember, this too shall pass! (no pun intended)
That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow.